We consider the real-time scheduling of full truckload transportation orders with time windows that arrive during schedule execution. Because a fast scheduling method is required, look-ahead heuristics are traditionally used to solve these kinds of problems. As an alternative, we introduce an agent-based approach where intelligent vehicle agents schedule their own routes. They interact with job agents, who strive for minimum transportation costs, using a Vickrey auction for each incoming order. This approach offers several advantages: it is fast, requires relatively little information and facilitates easy schedule adjustments in reaction to information updates. We compare the agent-based approach to more traditional hierarchical heuristics in an extensive simulation experiment. We find that a properly designed multi-agent approach performs as good as or even better than traditional methods. Particularly, the multi-agent approach yields less empty miles and a more stable service level.
- Multi-Agent Systems